PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Pittsburg State University and Fort Scott Community College are considering furthering their partnership. Just what such a partnership might look like has not yet fully been determined.
On Tuesday afternoon, the presidents of both institutions held the first of what they say will be several chances for stakeholders to weigh in.
PSU President Steve Scott and FSCC President Clayton Tatro, a graduate of PSU, stopped short of using the word “merger.”
Both emphasized the long-standing partnership between the two institutions, which began in 1985 with the Pittsburg School of Beauty (now Pittsburg Cosmetology). Tatro said 17 percent of FSCC’s operations are in Crawford County — primarily in Pittsburg and Frontenac — including the Harley-Davidson school, John Deere school and construction trades. In addition, FSCC students take community college courses on PSU’s campus, live in the residence halls, and eat in the dining areas.
“When you think about the challenges that are facing higher education right now, it is a very interesting time as we look at state support, local support, trying to figure out how we can do more with less and be more efficient with what we have,” Tatro said.
Tatro said he first approached Scott in January with the question of what such a model might look like. Senior leadership at both institutions met to begin conversations on a conceptual model, having analyzed 12 other models in other states and narrowing the field to three.
Both presidents said an expanded partnership would have the potential to generate greater economic efficiencies for both campuses. Similar models have successfully been put into place in other states, but this partnership would be the first of its kind in Kansas.
In a slide show that soon will be made available to the public via the PSU website, they outlined possible elements of such a model. Those possibilities are:
• The Kansas Board of Regents assumes the role of governance and supervision of the two entities.
• PSU oversees personnel, finances and building maintenance.
• Oversight and management is through one senior president and a senior administrator.
• A locally elected board of trustees oversees local matters.
• Policies, procedures and business functions are aligned, and a seamless student integration system is in place.
• Best practices are shared.
• FSCC faculty, staff and administration are employees of PSU.
Scott also outlined suggested stand-alone elements, wherein both institutions would maintain independence. Those elements are:
• Athletic programs.
• Regional accreditation.
• The preservation of existing funding streams.
Tatro and Scott told the group the benefits to students would include streamlined systems that help goal completion, and access to expanded education and training. For the community and region, it would mean a skilled work force and optimal stewardship of limited resources. For the state, it would mean added funding, a tested model that could be replicated elsewhere, a skilled work force and optimal stewardship of resources.
A public forum also was held in Fort Scott on Tuesday night. Pittsburg State University President Steve Scott said senior leadership will review feedback, with the goal of presenting a final plan to the Fort Scott Community College Board of Trustees and Kansas Board of Regents before the end of the year. Any proposed plan would have to be approved by both governing bodies.